Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Russia’s Biggest Demographic Problem – Super-High Mortality among Working-Age Males -- Just Got Bigger – Super-High Mortality among Working Age Males on the Rise

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 25 – The Russian authorities have had great and much self-advertised success in extending life expectancy by pushing down infant mortality to rates comparable to Western Europe, but they have not succeeded and in many cases have not even attempted to reduce the tragedy of super-high mortality rates among working-age men.

            Those, the product of excessive alcohol consumption, other poor lifestyle choices, accidents and suicides, have remained at Third World levels. (For background, see         

            Now, in the face of all of Russia’s other problems, this demographic disaster is getting worse.  Yevgeniy Bryun, a specialist on addictions, says that mortality among working age Russians was higher in the first quarter of 2020 than it was during the same period a year earlier (

            The increase was relatively slight for the country as a whole with deaths among this cohort rising from 36,500 to 37,000 but more dramatic for Moscow alone, where in April 2020 alone, 11,800 working-age Russians died compared to only 10,000 during the same month in 2019.

            Bryun says the coronavirus alone does not explain that. Instead, the expert argues that the misuse of alcohol constitutes a far larger cause.  Earlier this month, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko agreed, arguing that self-isolation had led to an upsurge in alcohol consumption among many Russians and especially Russian men.

            He urged that the legal drinking age be raised to 21, a controversial idea that has sparked a great deal of opposition from both alcohol producers and Russian politicians  and one that by itself will likely do less to drive down death rates among adults than other steps, such as the amelioration of poverty or promoting better lifestyles.

            In general, those have not been tried because they are far greater challenges involving much more money and a greater commitment by the authorities than the latter seem willing to show. 

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